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Why Him?

John Hamburg’s R-rated comedy shuffles out a tired premise and hangs it with a slew of witless gags

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Last week, movie audiences were applying the “What is your why?”line from Collateral Beauty to that misguided dramedy. This week, they’ll be asking “Why this?” at Why Him? John Hamburg’s R-rated comedy shuffles out a tired premise, re-sets it at the holidays for maximum last-reel feels and hangs it with a slew of witless gags (now with more profanity!). The big-idea laugh here is the generation/cultural gap between a middle-aged Michigan dad (Bryan Cranston) and his daughter’s boyfriend, a Silicon Valley hipster-doofus zillionaire (James Franco, doing his thing). 

So we get jokes about high-tech gadgets that already feel dated (that our toilet technology is decades behind Japan’s is nothing to laugh about); assorted fecklessness from another rich man-child (he steals a Christmas tree, naughty boy!); gags that announce themselves hours in advance (countdown to the moose-floating-in-moose-urine piece of art breaking …); and yet another Steve Aoki cameo. 

This meet-the-parents (ahem) riff has been done better before (and didn’t require the presence of two members of a 1970s rock quartet awkwardly airlifted into the last reel). If you’re simply going for the raunchy humor, you should also lower your expectations: You’ve heard it all before. At least the movie cops to the out-of-date set-up — that we’re watching a father and a potential husband fight over who gets the woman, though this isn’t setttled until the final scenes. 

Some decent comic actors are lost in this, including Keegan-Michael Key, saddled with a silly accent; Megan Mullally; and Andrew Rannells, the funniest actor on Girls who gets only a line or two. But then there’s Elon Musk, who should stick to gadgets rather than gags.


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